Drug lowers risk of stroke from abnormal heartbeat

Dr. Gilbert Vilela (center), Philippine lead investigator for XANAP, with (from left) Dr. Gilbert Par and Dr. Alyn Nagy of Medical Scientific Laison, Bayer Senior Brand Manager Kathleen Santos, and Dr. Mark Guzman, Senior Medical Advisor of Head of Pharmacovigilance at Bayer Phils. (Sundy Locus photo)

A drug known as NOAC lowers the risk of stroke from persons with abnormal heartbeat, according to a global study on its effectiveness

NOAC or non -vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants reduces stroke risks by 1.7 percent compared to vitamin K antagonists (VKA), according to the findings of a study on the drug dubbed XANAP presented by Dr. Gilbert C. Vilela, Department Manager III for Education, Training, and Research of Philippine Heart Center and XANAP lead investigator in the Philippines at a round table on stroke awareness held in Makati City on Thursday, 15 November.

According to the Department of Health, diseases of the vascular system, including stroke, is the second leading cause of mortality in the Philippines. Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is an irregular or non-valvular heartbeat disorder which increases the risk of stroke by blood clots. Strokes due to AF are more severe and causes disability in over 50 percent of patients.

The XANAP study observed the effectiveness of NOAC drug called Rivaroxaban and the result showed that 96 percent of patients treated with the said drug did not experience any major bleeding or stroke/systemic embolism. The study involved 2,273 AF patients from Hong Kong, Indonesia, South Korea and the Philippines.

“Rivaroxaban could work as well as Warferin. But it is better. Rivaroxiban is safer than Warferin. Specially if we’re going to compare bleeding, death and anti-platelet therapy that you may survived from but will leave you like a vegetable,” said Vilela, who is also a fellow of the Philippine College of Cardiology and the Philippine College of Physicians.

“I am 95 percent confident that if I give you Rivaroxaban you will not get stroke compared to Warferin,” Vilela added.

XANAP principal investigator Prof. Young-Hoon Kim of Korea University said the low bleeding risk in Asian patients who took Rivaroxaban reaffirms its positive benefit/risk profile and demonstrate its value in preventing the negative impact of stroke on patients and society.

A co-investigator, Prof. Chia-Ti Tsai of Taiwan National University Hospital, added that Rivaroxaban’s robust experience and evidence in patients across different risk profiles including those with high stroke risk reaffirms its safety for Asian patients.

Anticoagulants like VKA are used to prevent AF-related stroke. Warfarin, a variant of VKA, is the sole medication used for anticoagulation for 50 years. However, due to its anti-Vitamin K components, Warfarin has adverse effects such as manifold food and drug interactions, regular blood monitoring requirement and risk of intracranial or skull bleeding.

This led to the formulation of NOAC like Rivaroxaban. NOAC are proven to match Warfarin in stroke prevention but are easier to administer and significantly reduce the risk of life-threatening bleeding.

p: wjg

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